Full Guide: How Long Can A CAT Go Without Food

Cats are friendly beings whose owners feel intimacy and love. They give them companionship when they get used to them. They always stay with them because they are unable to form many relationships. When people return home, cats welcome them in their lovely way.

Some studies have shown that the presence of a pet with humans helps to calm the nerves and creates a pleasant atmosphere. 

One day I decided to go to one of my friends for a short visit. It rained heavily that day and I needed to stay with my friend for 3 days. My biggest concern was about my cat as she didn’t have food or water for those hard days.

I began to surf the internet for how long can a cat go without food. I also searched for how long can cats go without water. I collected a lot of data about cats and their incredible abilities. 

I found a lot of stories about cats survived for several weeks without eating. For example, under the ruins of a house during earthquakes or military actions. I was impressed by how many cats are very stubborn creatures.

After I returned home and made sure that my cat is alright, I decided to write this article. I wanted to share this knowledge with you as it’s common to leave a cat in an empty house.

1. How long can a cat go without eating food?

The cat, like all living things, needs good nutrition. A prolonged hunger strike adversely affects the pet’s health. Its duration can be up to 10 days, but access to water should be unimpeded.

Even in a cold room, a cat can survive if it finds a warm, secluded place. For example, basement or terrace. But in the absence of water, the animal will live on average 6 days, after which it will face serious health problems, including death.

Some possible reasons for the hunger strike:

  1. The sudden transition from one climate zone to another affects the cat’s health. Normally the situation is settled within 2 days.
  2. Animal appetite varies depending on the seasons. In summer, the cat consumes less food and drinks more water; in winter, the amount of food increases simultaneously, and the drink decreases. Fast for 2 days.
  3. Within one week, the cat is moved from one feed to another. During this period, the cat sometimes refuses to eat unusual foods, so the food given gradually.
  4. Cats often refuse rotten food. You need to monitor the container, and you can buy an automatic feeder if you have to leave the animal for several days.
  5. In the case of poisoning, the animal arranges fasting days. During this time, the stomach resumes its normal function.
  6. Cats sometimes experience mood swings.
  7. Stress in losing the owner, moving to a new place to stay, and meeting with dogs leads to a sudden hunger strike.
  8. The hormonal changes of the body (pregnancy, estrus, birth, postpartum period, puberty) affect the appetite of cats.
  9. Postoperative (discharge from anesthesia) for two days. The cat does not eat food in the right amount.
  10. Appetite disappears when sickness (helminth invasion, infection).

As practice shows, the cat can stay hungry for a week without negative consequences for the body. Of course, pets rarely behave this way. But if a dramatic event occurs in a pet’s life, starvation can be a behavioral reaction.

So, how much cats can survive without food? The complete failure of the animal to feed can lead to very sad consequences. According to experts, if the cat does not eat for two weeks, it can cause irreversible changes in the body.

2. Can a cat go without food for 2 days?

I noticed that there are many people are asking can my cat go without food for 2/3/4 days. The answer is definitely yes. Your cat is very patient. It can go without food for up to two weeks without any harmful changes in its body. It just needs to be hydrated. Although, it’s not favorable to leave your cat without eating for such a time. If that happened, your cat would need some special care as I will discuss later.

3. How long can a cat go without food after surgery?

Surgeries are very hard conditions for cats as they affect both mental and physical states. They also affect the cat’s appetite. After your cat has surgery, the cat’s eating habits will change.

That’s because your cat’s digestive system would not be working with the same capability before surgery. It needs some time to return its power. So, you should feed the cat with half the amount it’s used to eat before the surgery.

Also, don’t worry if your cat would not be able to eat on the first day after the surgery. The next day, you can try to offer the cat a small amount of food. If your cat vomits, you should visit a vet.

4. How long can a cat go without food when sick?

It’s pretty hard for cat’s diseases to be manifested. However, loss of appetite could be a very important alarm for you. 

You should be aware of your cat’s specific eating behavior to be able to distinguish any change.

In general, if your cat refuses to eat for more than 24-36 hours, you should visit a veterinarian. That means a life-threatening condition and your cat may die in a few days or weeks. After your cat begins to take medicine for its illness, you should try to feed your cat. 

5. How can you take care of your cat if it refuses to eat?

More importantly, if pets refuse to eat, provide clean drinking water (better filtered or bottled). Try to identify the causes of the hunger strike and eliminate it.

In this period, give him particularly favorite products.

If a hunger strike is associated with a disease, it is possible during long-term treatment to feed the animal using a syringe by force. In this case, you can give kefir, milk (if the cat is well tolerated), fish broths, meat, baby food. But anyway, it is better to consult with a veterinarian.

Important: You should contact your veterinarian if:

  • The cat doesn’t eat more than two days.
  • There was a refusal to use any liquids.
  • Dry and warm nose.
  • Slowing animals, inactive, not responding to stimuli.
  • Wool faded and began to stray.

6. Can a cat live without eating meat?

When we change our lifestyle, we want to make our pets follow us. Some people decide to be vegans and ask if their pets can live without eating meat. Unfortunately, the cat is not one of the pets which could be a vegan. Cats require a certain amount of meat in their diet.

Some people wonder why we can’t replace the animal protein by the plant protein. The protein consists of smaller units called amino acids. There are some amino acids exist in animal protein, not in plant protein. Those amino acids are very important for the cat’s growth and health, so they can’t be replaced by plant proteins. 

However, other pets can be vegans. So, if you decide to be a vegan, don’t consider your cat to be just a follower. It has different needs and abilities.

7. How long can a cat live on baby food?

Elderly and sick cats who are losing their appetites need some simple meals until they recover. Baby food is a very good choice for such a situation. 

It’s easy for sick cats to eat and digest these meals. It’s also considered as appetizing food. All these factors make baby food an ideal choice in many pathological conditions such as;

  • Sick cats with chronic diseases such as renal, hepatic, cardiac diseases, and cancer.
  • Dental diseases or after they extract teeth as they can’t swallow firm food.
  • Digestive diseases or hypersensitivity.

Although this kind of food may be very useful for your sick cat, it can’t handle it for a long time. Your cat can live on baby food alone for 2-3 days. After that, you should feed it with the usual food again. You can do that gradually if your cat is very sick. As I mentioned above, cats need raw meat in their diet which can not get in the baby food.

Warning: baby food doesn’t contain taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that cats only get from meat or synthetic supplementations. If your cat can’t get taurine, it will become blind. So, you can’t depend on baby food alone for more than 3 days. 

8. Do kittens need water?

After I discussed a lot about feeding your cat, I will move to the water intake of cats. You may lose sight of the fact that cats need to drink plenty of water. However, domestic cats, especially those that rely on ready-to-eat cats, need to maintain their water content. You need to keep the water in their bodies. Fortunately, there are many ways you can encourage your cat to drink more water as I will explain later.

9. How much water do cats need?

There is no specific amount of water your cat should drink daily. It is all individually and depends on many factors like conditions, lifestyle, weather, and diet.

For active-moving cats, they need more water than life-wise cats. Especially if the weather is hot or the pet eats artificial food.

First of all, you need to determine how much liquid your cat needs. You can determine the rate of water consumption by a simple equation; the weight of pets (taken in grams) is multiplied by 0.03. 

You can see that it uses about 30 grams of water per kilogram of weight. These 30 grams are not in water’s pure form. However, we are talking about all the fluids that the animal consumes during the day.  The fluid may be milk, moist foods, soups, or other foods.

Veterinarians recommend you test your cat for fluid intake almost every three months. To do this, you need to arrange cups of water around the house for three successive days. You should do that test in the evening to calculate the amount of cat drinking the liquid. 

Then, calculate the average number of water consumed in those three days. If the number is too small or too large, you should consider taking your pet to the vet clinic.

Info: For a small cat eating artificially dry food, the amount of water\ feed intake should exceed 2.5 times.

10. How can I force my cat to drink water?

There are many reasons why cats should not drink from their bowl. However, you should pay close attention to your cat’s behavior until you find out the real reason.

There are 5 tips to treat the problem of drinking water in cats.

  • Cats prefer drinking from running water.

Cats always like to drink from a fresh and running water source. So, you may notice that your cat refuses to drink from her drinking bowl.

Since the dishes can be a little deeper, they can hinder cats from observing the place around.

In this way, it may refuse to drink because she instinctively feels threatened.

  • Is the place of the pot suitable for cats?

Choosing the right place for cats is one of the pivotal steps in raising and caring for cats. For example, litter box storage can cause cats to stop using it altogether.

For cats who refuse to drink water, check the placement of the water dish. Do you place a bowl of water for cats next to a food dish?

If you do this, try placing the water container away from the food container.

Many cats do not like the smell of water to be similar to the smell of food. This is likely to happen when the water and food bowl are close together.

  • Do you change your cat’s drinking water every two hours?

If you don’t change your cat’s water periodically, do you expect your cats to drink?

Think about it, if you had a glass of water for several hours, would you drink it or go and get clean water?

The longer the water is in the container, the more dust may accumulate. It also may be contaminated with bacteria, exhaust, and other substances. Accordingly, your cat may refuse to drink.

So, it is better to change the water every two hours to help your cat drink.

  • Is there enough water in the cat’s drinking bowl?

Cats are typical and highly organized animals. They like to get used to things and adore a steady routine.

Therefore, the problem of cats not drinking water may arise because of changing water habits and quantity in the pot.

So, when you fill the cat’s pot, be sure to maintain a constant level in the pot and don’t change it.

You will be able to know this easily. If you notice your cat puts her hand in the pot of drinking, this is an indicator of a preferred water level.

  •  Choose the shape, colour, and height of the pot appropriate for your cat.

The shape and size of your cat’s drinking bowl are very important factors that make your cat likes to drink or reject it.

For example, if a drinking dish is so deep that cats must indulge in it, cats will reject it. That’s because their mustaches have a very important role in determining trends.

So you should watch your cat and know if it is comfortable with the size, shape, and height of its drinking pot?

11. How long can cats go without water? 

Like any creature, water is more essential than food for survival. To be honest, the most important reason for me to hurry up returning home is providing water for my cat. Cats can handle a lack of food for up to two weeks if they get an adequate amount of water. They can survive without water for just a few days.

After that, they face fatal consequences for hepatic failure and muscle waste. However, if cats get water-based food, it can survive for a longer time.

12. How many days can cats live without water?

Typically, the answer is three days. However, different cats may have different abilities in their tolerance for lack of food and water. 

Important: if you find a cat that didn’t drink for more than 3 days, you should visit a veterinary as it needs special care.

13. What happens when a cat doesn’t drink water?

If your cat doesn’t get the amount of water it needs, it will get dehydrated. Dehydration is a pathological condition that happens either due to decreased water intake or increased loss. So, if your cat experienced vomiting or diarrhea, you should compensate for this fluid loss. 

There are some symptoms can tell you that your cat gets dehydrated and you should take serious actions to rescue it. These symptoms could be:

  • Increase in heart rate.
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Dry mouth and sunken eyes.
  • Change in skin elasticity.

Important: As I mentioned, dehydration is a serious condition, so you should treat it as soon as possible.

14. What should you do if your cat is dehydrated?

If you suspect that your cat is dehydrated, you should take your cat to a veterinarian. You can easily detect dehydration at home by measuring your cat’s skin elasticity. Just lift the skin of your cat below its neck and notice whether it will return easily or after a long time. If your cat’s skin takes a long time to return to its usual position, that means your cat is dehydrated.

Stories of cats survived without food or water for a long period:

When I was surfing the internet, I found a lot of amazing stories about cats’ survival in hard conditions. I get so impressed with their abilities, so let me tell you some of these stories.

  • In Broken Arrow, dozens of green country cats recovering after their caretaker is found dead. Volunteers removed more than 30 cats survived for 14 days without food or water. The cats were skinny and had severe muscle wasting but after proper care, they recovered.
  • Small kittens survived weeks without water in a flooded basement. The small cats were trapped inside the basement where no food nor water. After it rained some water was poured through the holes. People could rescue the cats over 2 weeks when the flood was over. A vet came and treated the small cats, then they could survive after those hard days.

15. After these stories of survived cats, you may ask is it ok to leave a cat alone for 2 days?

Well, vets advise not to leave your cat more than a day and night at home and in extreme conditions two days. Your cat can survive without food for two days but it needs an adequate amount of water. If you leave the cat for more than two days, ants may sneak into your cat’s water. That will make the cat refuse drinking, which is dangerous.

Also, your cat may be trapped in furniture or on curtains and stay stuck for a long time. 

So, if you want to leave your home for more than one day, I recommend making your cat stays in a cat hotel. You can also ask your neighbour to take care of it until you come back.

Finally, unless it rained heavily that day, I wouldn’t leave my beloved cat alone for this long time. However, I’m so grateful for knowing to any extent my cat is independent and can survive in hard conditions. I also become more aware of my cat’s needs and requirements to be healthier. I hope you get this article useful for you and your cat.

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